Southern California’s first large wildfire of the season kicked off on Sunday afternoon (4/30) near the town of Highgrove in Riverside County. The Opera Fire quickly grew to 30 acres before the first responding fire units arrived on scene. The dry, grassy fuels burned rapidly, driven by gusty afternoon winds. Soon after helicopters arrived to assist, drones were spotted in the area, forcing the helicopters to land. Unfortunately, the lack of support from aircraft allowed the fire to quickly grow to 300 acres.
By 7:00 PM PST, the fire was at 1200 acres and threatening 40 homes. 230 firefighters from 8 crews battled throughout the night, mitigated the structure threat, and gained 60% containment by early Monday morning. 75 firefighters from four crews finished the mop-up operations, and fortunately no flare-ups were reported. By 7:30 AM on Tuesday (5/2), the fire was mapped at 1,350 acres and listed as fully contained.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown and under investigation.
More to Come
Small fires broke out all across Southern California over the past weekend. This might be a precursor of what to expect for this coming fire season. The wet winter helped much of California recover from the years-long drought, but also led to a huge spring growth of fine fuels. As these fuels dry out in the summer heat, explosive fire behavior is possible.
Fire Facts and Resources
- As of: May 2nd, 2017
- Location: Highgrove, Riverside County, CA
- Size: 1,350 acres
- Containment: 100%
- Firefighters: 230
- Helicopters: 3
- Bulldozers: 2
- Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through light fuels.
- Structures Threatened: 40 (reported)
- Structures Destroyed: 0 (reported)
- Incident Page: www.rvcfire.org
- News Article: The Press-Enterprise